The one drawback to being a faithful church member, music ministry volunteer, or leader is that you rarely get the opportunity to see what folks in other churches are doing. It seems that almost everyone has Sunday morning services and Wednesday evening rehearsals, so in being faithful to one's own commitment, that doesn't allow time to visit and observe other ministries.
That's one reason why I enjoy attending music conferences. In meeting together with musicians from other churches, one can greatly benefit from the sharing of ideas and experiences that such meetings afford.
Conferences for instrumental church musicians are rather rare and far between, but here are a couple I would recommend:
TEXAS BAPTIST "INSTRUMENTAL CONVERGENCE" — this one-day clinic is put on each Spring by the music department of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. The event provides an opportunity for church orchestra players to join together in a large reading session event, playing lots of great music as led by a featured clinician. I've taken members of the church orchestra that I direct to the Convergence for the last three years, and it's proven to be an enjoyable time. Clinicians have included Kenn Hughes, Richard Kingsmore, and Robert Sterling.
NORTH CAROLINA "RENEWING WORSHIP" EXPO — I will be the guest clinician for the "Orchestra Retreat" part of this event next month (Saturday, August 3) in Winston-Salem. We'll spend the morning and afternoon playing through lots of great music. Along the way, I'll be sharing tips on how to improve one's musicianship and be a better church orchestra member. It's not too late to register if you would like to come!
I've also been the guest conductor in the past for similar events hosted by individual churches. If you'd be interested in having me come to work with your orchestra, please contact me and I'd be glad to chat with you about it!
One final tip: if you are a director, you should know about the Metro Instrumental Directors Conference. This group meets for a week each May, and also hosts an email group which is a very helpful source of information. Please contact me for more information.